S. E. A. Kill Girls Dreams.
Sexual Exploitation and Assault (SEA)
The campaign on Girls Education is a holistic one in which we are appealing that girls be given the opportunity to education and a conducive learning environment to facilitate her learning process.
Conducive environment-I mean a space that will help her express herself in whatever way. In Africa, especially Liberia where I have had my experience, girls are given the opportunity to enroll in school alongside their male counterpart but the atmosphere and environment is very unfriendly.
Unfriendly in a sense that girls and boys share the same restroom; girls are bullied by boys because of their sexuality. Example, a girl with a big boob or buttocks becomes a laughing stock and distraction for the rest of the class. This may cause some girls to drop out of school. Worst of all sexual harassment is on the increase. Male teachers intimidate girls and sexually assault them.
As journalist, and position at the secretariat of the female journalists association of Liberia I have had the opportunity to follow sexual assault stories involving girls of all ages and at every level of their education. There this particular story that made headlines on almost every newspaper and radio newscast. A graduating senior at one the most popular Universities in Liberia had a video recording of her college’s dean soliciting sex before he can sign her graduation application form.
In a one to one chat with the girl involved, I asked how did she get the recording and she narrated her story:
Girl: He has been harassing me the minute I enter his department as a freshmen but I tried to ignore it and shove it off. He kept it and was waiting for my senior year and subsequence graduation process. When I filled my application for graduation and took it him for signatures as my Dean, I met my surprise. He laughed and said to me “who told you that you are graduating? With shock I ask why?
He said you are not leaving this school unless you give me what I ask for and you know it. At first I saw it as a mere intimidation but as the days drew closer and my papers were not signed I went to see him again.
Me: and then what happen?
Girl: This time I got on my knees. I beg him with tears in my eyes but he said why are you making things difficult for yourself. If you had agreed e very day I told you as a freshman, this would have been dealt with a long time. Knowing that he meant every word he said I pretended to play along with a plan of exposing him even if it will cost me my degree.
We planned to meet at a local motel. I was there ahead of schedule so I set my phone on video recording and secretly placed it in a position that he never knew. He came and I pretended to start appealing to him again. This time he was very furious, why are you being difficult? I just want to beg you for that last time maybe you will see reason to allow me graduate. He said under no condition I will let you graduate without me sleeping with you. I said in case I was your daughter will you feel good to hear this happen to her?
Me: and what did he say?
Girl: He said I don’t care! That’s my daughter’s problem to worry about not mine. Then I started a conversation by asking if I was the only girl he was doing this to? He admitted and said he does it to every good looking girl that enters his department.
Girl: so I asked him why he did that? He said wanted the girls to know he had the power to do anything to them why they in his care because when the girls leave his department he will not have the chance to have sex with them anymore. An example is you he pointed at me. With all the power I have, you were refusing to sleep with me do you think you will ever allow me have sex with you after your graduation. I was shock hearing such an unthinkable thing from a man the society trust and respect, an educator, a father and moreover a husband. I knew he had a mental problem and he must be stopped and punished. I later asked if he had a condom surprisingly, he said he doesn’t have sex with condoms.
Me: so what did you do next?
Girl:I said I don’t want to have sex without a condom so he went to reception to get oneleft I got my phone, placed it in my bag and when he came I told him I changed my mind.
He was angry, and we left and I took the recording to the president of the school who is also a female thinking that she will be of help to me and all the other girls that had suffered from this monster.
Me: I know right…what did she do?
Girl: Upon seeing the video and hearing my story, she was upset and requested his presence immediately. She told me to leave her office because she wanted to handle it administratively.
Me: what happen next?
Girl: The next day I learn that my Dean has resigned and the scandal was all over the campus but in a different story.
Me: A different story like what?
Girl: The new story was that I seduced him to the motel to allow me graduate. I was seen as the bad girl on campus. All my friends are blaming me for exposing and making him to resign.
Me: Did he sign your application form at last?
Girl: No! he did not and president is telling me there is nothing she can do about my application.
Me: So what are you going to do with the recording?
Girl: The school administration is asking me to give them the recording then they will appeal to this man to sign my application and I will get to graduate with my friends but I told them no.
Me: So that means you might not graduate with your friends?
Girl: I don’t care about graduation anymore all I care about is that I want to publish this video and expose this beast. He needs to pay for what he has done to other young women that found themselves in similar situation though they could not stand up against him.
Me: So that means you won’t have a college degree after laboring for four years?
Girl: That is the frustrating part about my situation.
Me: what about school administration?
Girl: It’s like the administration is aware of this man acts that is why they asking me to give them the video recording but I am not giving this recording to any not even you.
Me: Can you allow me see it?
Girl: Yes I can allow people watch it but not allow duplicating it.
This is just one person’s story. There are so many more of these stories that young women have to tell.
In 2010, a principal of a secondary school was dismissed for impregnating three teenage girls in that school and all that happened to him was that he resigned but the lives of those teenagers are shattered for good.
The frustrating thing is that we have sex crime court established in Liberia but most of these cases do not surface at the court on grounds that there are not sufficient evidence to prosecute.
It is time to stand up and speak up for a girl friendly learning environment. In as much as we want girls to have access to education, we ask for an environment free of bullying, sexual harassment and assault,